When it comes to icons, the towering Hollywood Sign stands tall—literally. Originally erected in 1923 to promote a housing development called Hollywoodland, the enormous sign—which lost its last four letters in 1949 and got a massive makeover in 1978 (spearheaded by the late Hugh Hefner of Playboy fame)—now acts like a towering beacon for anyone who dreams of being in the movies.
The Best Views of the Hollywood Sign Without Hiking
Get good views of the sign along Mulholland Highway as it snakes through the Hollywood Hills, as well as from the Griffith Observatory (where there’s free parking) and Lake Hollywood Park. From town, look up—instead of down, searching for your favorite stars along the Hollywood Walk of Fame—at the sign from the Hollywood and Highland Center. Another convenient way to get a good gander at the sign is via LADOT Transit’s free DASH Observatory/Los Feliz bus service, which runs every 20 minutes seven days a week, from 10 a.m. to 9:45 p.m.
For a more novel way to see the sign, join a guided horseback ride out of Sunset Ranch, located in Griffith Park, at the end of Beachwood Drive. Sunset Ranch’s horseback riding tours include one- or two-hour rides through Griffith Park, evening tours with dinner, and even overnight stays that all offer great photo ops of the famous sign—along with other L.A. scenery, stretching all the way out to the Pacific. For an exclusive Hollywood Sign viewing, book your own private helicopter tour of the city’s various landmarks—flying by the Hollywood Hills’ famous former advertisement is a given.
Best Hikes to View the Hollywood Sign
Unsurprisingly, probably the best views of the Hollywood Sign—and the best selfie opportunities—require getting closer to it than is possible in a vehicle, and that means hiking. Griffith Park has three trails, accessible sunrise to sunset, all year round, that fit the bill perfectly. The Mt. Hollywood Trail and the Brush Canyon Trail via Canyon Drive are both considered moderately challenging hikes, and are both roughly the same length (5.3, 6 miles respectively; the Mt. Hollywood is a loop and the Brush Trail is an out-and-back route). For the more adventurous, the 3-mile out-and-back Cahuenga Peak Trail takes you to the highest point in the park; you can gauge your progress by keeping an eye on the sign’s nearby radio towers that are ever-visible. It’s a challenging hike, with an elevation change of 875 feet, but the payoff of seeing the sign at this height is worth it.
Things to Do Near the Hollywood Sign
Also located in Griffith Park are two world-class attractions: the Griffith Park Observatory, where transportive planetarium shows are presented all through the year, and The Greek Theatre, one of the premier outdoor music venues in the country. Near the northwest corner of the park is the Warner Brothers Studio, where, if you are a fan of the big screen (and who isn’t?), a tour is definitely in order. To the south are two neighborhoods—Los Feliz and Silver Lake—that are packed with hip boutiques, buzzy restaurants, and thriving cultural scenes.